Friday 4th August Day 8
There was another river safari scheduled for 08:00 but Mike, Pat and I didn’t go on it because we had to transfer
everyone’s luggage across the river to the minibus. Due to the fact that five
other members had joined us at Mvuu, it wouldn’t have been possible to get us
all, plus our luggage on board the minibus. So, Mike arranged for a pick-Up truck
to be brought down from Blantyre, where he has a team of men supporting ‘Seed Sowers’ under the management of a Pastor who runs an orphanage. The pick-up
transported all the luggage plus Mike, Pat, Rejoice and I allowing the remaining members to travel back in the Minibus. Another reason why Pat and myself
made an early start was because it was the day we were to meet up with two
Project Workers from World Vision in the town of Zomba, on the way back to Blantyre which is where we were to be based for the next few days.
The World Vision staff met Pat and me in Zomba around midday where we climbed into a land rover and
were taken to the village where Madalitsu, the boy I sponsor lives, whilst Mike
drove on to Blantyre. This visit had been arranged in the UK over several weeks prior to us leaving and it took quite a bit of
planning in order to fit it into our busy schedule. There was also a lot of
‘red tape’ to cut through on behalf of World Vision, security checks and an
interview with the Child Protection Officer etc.
After an hour’s drive out of Zomba along a dirt road in a land rover we finally reached the village
where quite a crowd was gathered. There was a large notice saying Welcome Mr Ian White and we were told that there
should have been singing and dancing but unfortunately the Chief had recently lost a daughter, therefore such celebrations had to be curtailed. We were
offered chairs and sat down in the house of one of the villagers. The houses
are rather like a bus shelter with a thatched roof and open fronted.
The villagers gathered round in a semi circle. There were speeches from one of the Elders, the
Chairman of the Project and people from World Vision. Prayers were said and I
was asked if I wished to respond through an Interpreter. We were then taken
next door into Madalitsu’s home where we chatted with him and his parents. I
had taken him a football and pump as a gift, with which he was delighted. Madalitsu
is 15 years old and doing well at school. He tells me that he would like a
career in the Civil Service. We were invited to take a meal with him and his
parents. The meal contained chicken, which we were told is a symbol that one
has been accepted into the family. I felt quite honoured. One had to sit on
the floor as there is no furniture and we ate with our fingers. Madalitsu’s
home is one of the better ones in these villages as it has a level concrete
floor, whereas most are just earth.
After saying our goodbyes, we left the village and were taken to World Vision’s Project Office where we were given yet another
meal consisting of their staple diet called Nseema, which is boiled maize
meal. It is made more or less like a thick porridge, which sets into a cake
like consistency, and then they slice it. It is very bland and most Europeans I speak to, find it awful, including myself! There was also goat meat, rice,
spinach and beans. We were given a talk on the work of world vision and in particular
about Madalitsu’s village and his progress at school.
The main aims of World Vision are health, education, nutrition and security. At this office they hold somewhere in the region of
30,000 files, one of which is Madalitsu’s. They showed us his file, containing
a record of how long I had been sponsoring him, dating back to 2001, and all his
school reports – copies of which had been sent to me. These projects of World Vision
run for 15 years, in which time it is felt that these communities are in a
position to be able to take care of themselves. The project I visited was
about halfway through it’s time scale and I was told that I was only the second
sponsor to visit in that 7 year period. Finally I was given a large square box
wrapped in colourful plastic and ribbon. They told me I could open it there
and then if I so wished as they had no idea what it was. To my surprise, it contained a large carved wooden rhinoceros and underneath that was another
carving of an elephant with a baby. These were both inside a magnificently
carved wooden bowl, about 12 inches diameter by about 5 inches deep. This now
sits on my dining table as a lovely fruit bowl.
I was wished a safe journey home and thanked for supporting World Vision. We then climbed back into the
land rover and were taken back to Zomba, where we transferred to the comfort of
a large air conditioned saloon car to be driven back to Blantyre where our friends were waiting to
hear all about our trip.
Saturday 5th August Day 9
First thing after breakfast we all took
a trip out to a village called Chigumula, which lies on the outskirts of Blantyre. Again, we were greeted by
wonderful singing upon our arrival. This is a village where Seed Sowers have proposed the building of a TBA Traditional Birth Attendant Clinic. They have already established
a water Bore Hole, which at present is just a well but there was talk of providing a pump in the not too distant future. This village stands on very
hilly ground and there are no roads. One has to scramble over rough hard
ground with lots of rocks and loose earth, in order to get around the various
houses. It rather resembled a building site.
Once it had been established where the site for the clinic would be we then set off back to Blantyre for lunch. In the afternoon we
drove out to an orphanage called KondaNani. It covers over 50 acres and they
have livestock such as pigs, Jersey cattle, as well as turkeys and chickens. There are two school buildings for around 50
children plus a large farmhouse which was an old colonial house in the past, now used as accommodation. The orphanage is supported by Seed Sowers as well as
the religious broadcasting TV channel. Pat is hoping to be working here, as
well as visiting other villages during her two year spell in Africa.
After our guided tour, we sat around talking and eating nuts, crisps and various other nibbles until later in
the evening when a barbecue was held around a large c fire. The food was
not just the regular barbecue food, it consisted of roast pork their own produce.
There was a chicken stew and various other items. It became very cool and
windy after dark so we retired into the house and chatted.
Sunday 6thAugust day 10
After an early breakfast we set off for the morning service at George’s Church. This is an Anglican Church at Limbi, which
is part of Blantyre. Being the
first Sunday of the month, meant it was a joint service. Normally there is an
English service at 08:00 then another at 09:00 for local members in their own language of Chichewa. It was a
Communion Service with a wonderful choir accompanied by two African drummers.
Towards the end of the service, Mike addressed the Congregation through an
interpreter. He outlined the creation of Seed Sowers, what they are doing, and
what they have achieved so far. Tea and coffee were served afterwards and we
shared in fellowship. We returned to the Seven Day Adventists Mission, which
was our base in Blantyre, to change into more casual clothes.
We had arranged to meet Phil, a man from a
Church in Torquay who, along with his wife and son, were working at CondaNani
for a month and he had asked us to join him and his family at a restaurant not
far from Kondanani, so we all agreed to meet there for lunch. It was a new place,
still under construction. The Proprietor was building a game lodge with
accommodation chalets, bowling greens, a very European up-market restaurant and
other amenities. We had a very nice meal, afterwards we sat and chatted over
coffee in the Lounge, unfortunately Karen, Phil’s wife, was ill and unable to
Later we drove across Blantyre to another orphanage. It is quite common in these communities to
find someone, usually a woman, of advanced years, looking after maybe eight or
ten children who have been orphaned through HIV Aids, hence there a quite a
number of these orphanages around. The one we visited is called Hgape and is
run by a Pastor called Fletcher Kyhia who is also a Trustee of Seed Sowers. They
have eighteen children in this particular orphanage, aged from six to thirteen. As they came in they individually shook each one of us by the hand
then Fletcher asked them if they would sing for us. To our delight they
obliged and it was wonderful. They sang and danced to Christian songs. By the
time they had finished and gone outside to play, I’m sure there wasn’t a dry
eye in the house. Following a little more chat with Fletcher we left around 18:00 to the sound of children singing and
playing games in the enclosure of the orphanage and drove back to our lodgings
to pack our bags and prepare for our long journey in the morning, a five hour drive
to Nkhotakota and another safari.
Monday 7th August Day 11
After some early preparations and shopping for essentials such as water and food in Blantyre we set out on the road to Nkhotakota,
which is a game lodge by the side of Lake Malawi. The Lake is 360
miles long and 52 miles wide and comprises of 20% of the country’s area. Malawi is about the same size as England with around 12 million
Following a stop in Salima for a toilet stop and a bite to eat,
we arrived at our destination by about 16:15. The accommodation consisted of six chalets built in the round,
standing on sand and were only a few feet from the shore of the Lake. They had thatched roofs, each with
three beds and a shower room which had no door, just a curtain across. The
lodge had two other buildings, one being the restaurant with a bar next door. The
ownership had recently changed since Mike’s last visit. He had known the
previous owners personally and unfortunately standards had slipped somewhat but
Mike said one had to make allowances as they were still new to the business.
It was mainly the slow service and mix ups with the orders that we found the biggest
issue, but as we kept saying most days, “Ah well! This is Africa!” This means that one has to be
patient as nothing goes as smoothly as it does in Britain .
Tuesday 8th August Day 12
Visited the village of Sani where they were in need of maize, meal and candles, so we drove into a small township called
St Anne’s. Here we purchased the goods that we required and took a look round
the Anglican Cathedral which stands there. The cemetery holds graves of some
of the earliest Missionaries, who died out there. They were mainly British and
Irish, most of them were barely out of their thirties. They most likely died
from malaria and other such tropical diseases.
Standing in the centre of the town, and just a few yards from the Cathedral, is a very large tree. Beneath
this tree Dr Livingstone signed a treaty with the local natives in the mid
eighteen fifties in a bid to put an end to the traffic in slaves.
We took the items we had bought back to the village, said our farewells and drove back to
the safari lodge at Nkhotakota. In the afternoon we prepared for a game walk, which
is a safari on foot. There was a guide called Frank from our lodge who directed us in the minibus to a point at the edge of the bush where we picked
up a game warden called Andrew. Both these men were Malawians and Andrew carried
a rifle. We drove up the dirt track a little, parked up, ate our packed Lunch then
set out on foot into the Bush around 14:00.
The going was quite tough, with lots of boulders, felled logs and loose earth. At times it resembled a dried up river bed, which in fact it was,
because this was towards the end of winter which is a dry season and the river
was very low. The rains come around the end of October and last until January
or February. There were lots of up hill climbs and steep descents, luckily I
had packed my walking boots and pole, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it. I
walked along behind Pat holding onto a strap of her rucksack with her giving
instructions on what kind of obstacles we were coming up against, such as low
overhanging branches and holes in the ground etc. The only creatures we came
across were crocodiles basking in the sun, at a safe distance I hasten to add.
About halfway through the walk Andrew spotted some poachers and we could hear
chopping of wood. He told us that they were stripping bark of a particular tree which they use as fishing bait. There is a species of fish in Lake Malawi called chambo and it is a local
delicacy. We ate it several times and found it to be very pleasant. We tried
to make a detour around them so as not to disturb them but unfortunately the
terrain was too difficult and we had to turn back onto our original route. We
stood very quietly for some time waiting for Andrew’s directions, when suddenly
he fired his rifle into the air as a warning shot. We all hit the ground
because had the poachers been armed, they may have returned fire. Fortunately,
they were not and they just fled. Andrew went forward to the spot where they
had been and retrieved their cooking utensils. He told us that they would be
useful evidence and might be helpful in apprehending them. It certainly caused
some excitement in our party.
The afternoon turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment from the game perspective, with evidence of elephants having been
around but none were visible, nor was anything else for that matter, despite it
being lion and leopard territory. Perhaps it was the wrong time of day and
most of the game would be resting out of the sun. Never mind, it was an
experience to look back on.
Around 17:30 we arrived at the minibus and drove back to the lodge, dropping off
Andrew on the way, thanking him for his contribution. Later, after a shower
and a shave we sat and chatted over a beer in the bar before dinner. I was
held up as the hero of the day for having coped so well under the difficult
conditions. Several of the party fell, whilst I was one of the few who remained
on my feet.
Wednesday 9th August Day 13
Once again an early breakfast for an early start, around 08:30. Heading
for the village of Lozi, stopping on the way to collect 3
Nurses, one of them being a sister with two of her colleagues. Upon our
arrival at Lozi once again we were greeted with the traditional singing and an
address from the Chairman of the Committee which Mike had appointed on a
Following this, Pat began the clinic attending to about 50 or
60 children, with the assistance of several of our team. Dave weighed each
child in turn whilst his wife kept remaining children entertained, as Trish is
a teacher having worked with all age groups. Dave and Trish’s son Richard,
along with Georgina, Mei Mei’s
daughter played football with some other children. I was employed doing
massage, in some cases on neck and shoulders, in others, it was hands. This
was undertaken in someone’s house with George acting as Interpreter. I
finished my session by around midday and settled down in the shade to read a Braille book.
Along came Mike and Dave thanking me for a superb job. They said that Mike was heading
back to Nkhotakota and suggested I go along with him in the pick-up truck,
leaving the others to follow once they had completed the clinic. Mike said I
could just ‘chill out’ for the rest of the day and keep Hank company who had
been unable to attend the clinic due to being laid low for a couple of days
with a bad case of the ‘runs’. We were joined later by Fletcher, his wife,
George’s wife Rejoice and their Grandson Nicky.
They had come for the barbecue on our last evening. We had to juggle around with our accommodation in order
to fit everyone in. Dining tables and chairs were placed outside on the sand
ready for dinner which was to be the barbecue. Entertainment was provided by
local traditional native musicians and singers dressed in National Costume.
One of them was covered in feathers and beads, he danced around our table shouting and blowing a whistle. We were sitting under a full moon, clear skies
and all in all it was a lovely evening with good food and company. I recorded
some of the music on my Minidisk recorder.
Thursday 10th August Day 14
The original plan was to visit a village called Mwansambo in the afternoon but it entailed a 17 kilometre drive over a
dirt road and Mike felt we should have a leisurely day so he cancelled the
trip. Instead in the morning we took a trip out to another village called Kasamba,
this is a place where a TBA clinic has been established for a few years and is
doing very well. They have had a new surfaced road laid to the village instead
of the dirt road, which was there when Mike last visited. We parked in the
shade of a large mango tree bearing plenty of fruit, and talked to the Birth
Attendant who told us that in July she had delivered 40 babies.
After chatting for a while, we said farewell to Fletcher and his wife, also to George’s wife
and Grandson. George would be staying on with us and his wife Rejoice will be
joining us again in Zambia. We
drove back to the lodge and relaxed for the afternoon.
Some members of the team spent the afternoon packing more of the Glyco-Nutrient tablets. The tablets
come in large cardboard boxes and they have to be counted out into small freezer
bags, 60 in each bag.
Unfortunately Dave fell ill today. He went down with a
severe stomach upset and was absent all day. They had managed to pack sufficient
bags of tablets for tomorrow’s clinic, so it left us time to take a short walk
along the shore of the Lake to
the pottery. There were some lovely pieces and most of us purchased something.
I bought 4 pieces, and then we sat outside and ordered some tea from the cafe. We then strolled back to the lodge, showered and prepared for dinner.
Later that evening, the wind rose to around gale force and it was very noisy
trying to get to sleep. I thought the thatched roof was going to be blown off.